- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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TORONTO -- Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster knew exactly what to do Thursday night after undefeated teammate Clay Buchholz was accused by pitcher-turned-Blue Jays broadcaster Jack Morris of throwing a spitball the night before.
“Actually, I came up after the third inning and asked Clay for some of the stuff he was using,’’ Dempster said. “That’s what I went with.’’
By the end of this three-game set, one in which the Sox took the rubber game, 3-1, behind Dempster and a bullpen that put five runners on base in the last three innings but allowed none of them to score, it was almost an insult to pitch for the Sox and not be accused of doctoring the ball.
On Thursday night, the Jays telecast showed reliever Junichi Tazawa rubbing his left forearm, the same place where Morris claimed Buchholz had applied a substance that he subsequently loaded onto the baseball, making it capable of unnatural movements.
“If comments are going to be made because our pitchers are pitching well,’’ Sox manager John Farrell said, “we’ll take it as a compliment.’’
Dempster, who is too busy with his glove gyrations to be varnishing the baseball, had a suggestion for any and all of Buchholz’s accusers, which did not end with Morris, as several other members of the Jays broadcast team chimed in.
“They should play catch with Clay,’’ he said. “I do. He manipulates the baseball as well as anyone I’ve ever been around.’’
Dempster, a native of British Columbia, is now 6-0 in his native Canada, having gone 5-0 against the late, lamented Montreal Expos. A regular Marciano, no?
“I’m looking for more expansion teams,’’ he said. “That’s kind of my goal. More teams, try to keep it going.’’
Dempster had a chance to pitch here as a member of a Canadian junior team in 1994 but passed, figuring he’d get plenty of other opportunities.
“Now it’s nearly 20 years later,’’ he said. “Funny.’’
Three pitches in, it hardly looked worth the wait, Brett Lawrie leading off the Jays first with a home run to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. Dempster then walked the bases loaded and was behind, 2-0, on Edwin Encarnacion when pitching coach Juan Nieves stopped by for a visit. One pitch later, and
Dempster was on his way back to the dugout, shortstop Stephen Drew starting one of the three double plays he would initiate on the night.
“A veteran presence and experience gets him through those situations,’’ Farrell said. “He finds a way to navigate through those situations that can get ugly and put a crooked number on the board. A key double play tonight.’’
Dempster finished strong, setting down 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. He has gone at least six innings in each of his last four starts, though his streak of striking out at least seven batters ended in his sixth start, as he whiffed four.
“That leadoff home run maybe woke me up a little bit,’’ he said. “I was able to make a couple of pitches with the bases loaded, and able to get out of my own mess.’’
And no one said it took sticky fingers to do it.
3dTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com